The concept of meditation:
Meditation has become a common term among the society right now. It has spread its roots deep down starting from the corporate world to the common mass.
The number of yoga institutions has boomed recently and numerous terms for meditation practices are coined to attract people in this path.
The categories of meditation are several in numbers. Some are listed below.
- Classical: This is the generic one which doesn’t follow any specific guidelines. It generally emerges from belief and personal trend.
- Instructed: These are personally prescribed by spiritual guides or Guru’s and follows a definite method.
- Guided: In this process; somebody gives live instructions (vis-à-vis or through digital media) to a single or a group of people to get into a trance state where thoughts seems to slow down and mind becomes dormant.
- Mantra: Chanting of a specific syllable (e.g. “OM”, “HUM” or some vague sounds) repeatedly stops the chatter of the mind and dissolute it. This method is quite prevalent in Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity etc. and avidly followed by the common people.
- Zen: This meditation is also known as zazen. It was done in a seated position (As the word Zazen depicts: Seated meditation). It is widely practiced in Japan and China but its origins connect to the Buddhist in India.
- Vipassana: It is “Pali” word which means clarity of insight. This method gives stress on breathing pattern or on conscious breathing. This is effective is stilling the mind.
There are many more techniques like “Metta”, “Self enquiry”, “Kriya Yoga”, “Tao”, “Qigong” and so on.
Whatever the techniques may be; the goal is the most important of all. But, there are few misconceptions related to this wonderful faculty. I shall try to clear five amongst them.
1) Mediation can be done!
The term meditation relates to the term “Dhyana” in Sanskrit. “Dhyana” is the seventh stage of the “Patanjali Yoga Sutra”.
Patanjali Yoga Sutra is the most ancient and vivid documentation depicting elaborately about the psycho-physiological connections and analyses the minute strata’s of mind and intellect.
According to this 8-fold system, meditation (Dhyana) is the stillness of mind with an active consciousness. So, the “I” awareness slowly dissolute into the consciousness and merges into one (The last step: Samadhi). So meditation couldn’t be done. We go into it or rather slip into meditation. What we consider as meditation is actually the practice of concentration with an active mind. The state of meditation can be achieved but cannot be practiced. So; to earn the desired level, start practicing concentration religiously.
2) It can be practiced solely!
It was well understood that without having a sound body; it is not recommended to practice meditation (read concentration) because it may lead to mental numbness.
This dormancy can provide a blankness inside which is basically due to the inactivity of mental conditions. It can be compared to a self-hypnotic condition which eventually results into sleepiness. The brain gets confused about the physical and mental inactivity and treats this state as a pre-sleep stage. It secrets melatonin hormone which naturally induces sleep as it does when anybody prepares to sleep.
This state is sometimes related with actual mediation but it is quite far from it.
So, to get into the basic of meditation; one should have a sound body and a sound sleep. Proper nutritious food helps in getting into a productive meditation.
A bit of freehand exercise, proper food and sleep and cultivating dispassion; when maintained regularly can lead to the goal.
3) Meditation is a religious practice
This is a practice to still our mind. A still and focused mind leads to a wide awareness. This awareness fires up the conscience (Viveka) which becomes a vehicle for inward journey. This “Viveka” is also a tool for realizing the oneness within.
This journey is common for all, the path may vary. So, practicing concentration for achieving meditative state does not fall into any classifications based on religion or belief.
You are fully free to choose you path if you want to walk independently. You will reach there, irrespective of any religion.
4) The practice takes huge time to provide benefits
This may vary with the effort given but the benefits of practicing concentration generate immediate effects on psycho-physiological system. Within a week, a devoted practitioner shall feel the lowering of blood pressure (if they have), release of stress, diminishing anxiety and an elevated experience of serenity within. It also boosts memory, feeling of empathy. It regulates sleep cycle for proper cleansing of the body toxin. It eventually develops the persona with a more elevated sense of humanity.
5) It is difficult!
This point should have come first but I mentioned it as the last point because, it is the ultimate hurdle to cross. Things go tougher gradually so this is the last one to overcome. I am sure you can!
No! Practicing concentration is not difficult. On the contrary, it can be one of the easiest things you can do. It doesn’t need anything other than your time, a quiet and little space and YOU.
You have all the tools ready within your body and mind to reach to the utmost level. In this process; you have to do nothing but to sit still and observe your thoughts without getting attached to it. Stilling a mind can be a challenge and we can end up losing the battle. So, it has been stated in the scriptures to stop fighting with wandering thoughts and observe it with absolute detachment as we look up to the passing clouds without any emotional connection.
This observing state of our mind shall bring forth the dispassion towards the bubbling thoughts and these thoughts will gradually fade away leaving behind a still unstirred mind; ready for its inward voyage.
I hope that the author has more or less managed to clear the false doubts and myths about meditation. It is easy, it is robust and it is for you.
Start practicing it from today. You shall be overwhelmed with its benefits.
 Patanjali Yoga Sutra – It is a text on yoga based on “Samkhya Darshana” (a path of Indian philosophy) in which the eight fold path of yoga has been described vividly. It starts from our daily life manners slowly leading to inner truth. This is separate from Vedantic system of meditation practice. “Yogi Yagyavalkam” written by rishi Yagyavalka is also based on eight methods aligning with Vedantic concepts.[Authors note]
Deepayan Choudhury is associated with Vedantic philosophy for a good amount of time and delivered lectures to few philosophical societies in Kolkata, India. He is also a poet and many of his compositions were published in print magazines mostly in his regional language. His poetry was selected three consecutive times in the “Poetry World”, a collection of world poetries.
He is also an illustrator, painter and cartoonist. He took part in several painting exhibitions in Kolkata, India.